Anderson, Brellenthin, Gregory and Smith Last Four Remaining at MGA Senior Players

June 14, 2022
By Nick Hunter

  LAKE ELMO, Minn. – In search of his second win in three seasons this week, Jay Gregory earned a pair of victories Tuesday to advance to the semifinal round of the 23rd Minnesota Golf Association Senior Players’ Championship at Royal Golf Club.

A late birdie against 2019 champion Jim Lehman helped Gregory to a perfect 3-0 record during the pool play portion of the tournament before he sank a 20-footer for birdie at the 13th hole during Tuesday’s afternoon, advancing to the final four with a convincing win over Bob Neuberger, 7 and 5.

“I’ve been in good control of the golf ball,” said Gregory, who played 30 holes in 4-over Tuesday in hot and windy conditions. “I hit a lot of good shots. The greens are just hard, especially with how hard the wind was blowing.

“You definitely have to think your way around the course. It’s obviously an Arnold Palmer design because the greens are very undulated and quick. I’ve putted pretty decent, not great, but I haven’t hurt myself with the putter."

Gregory, who defeated Jerry Rose at Cannon Golf Club in 2020 for his first state victory, reached the semifinals of the Iowa Golf Association Senior Match Play Championship at Fort Dodge Country Club last week.

During his match against Lehman early Tuesday, Gregory won the opening hole and carried a slim lead for the duration of his front nine before Lehman evened the match at the 10th. Gregory would grab the lead right back by winning the 11th and closed out pool play with a birdie at the 17th to defeat Lehman, 2 and 1.

Yet to trail in any of his matches this week, Gregory took the lead over Neuberger on the second hole in his afternoon match and never looked back, cruising to a quarterfinal win, 7 and 5.

Standing in Gregory’s way during the semifinal round Wednesday is Pat Smith, who has four convincing wins to his credit this week with his closest match coming second round of pool play Tuesday, defeating defending MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year Tim Peterson, 4 and 3.

“The course certainly played much harder today. I wasn't bothered by the heat, but the high winds made it very challenging to control your golf ball,” Smith said Tuesday. “I was fortunate to keep all but one shot in play and, despite the wind, putted reasonably well.

“Going into tomorrow, I need to drive the ball well and choose the right spots on the greens to putt from. This is definitely not a course that allows you to fire at every pin.”

Defending MGA Senior Amateur champion John Brellenthin took two steps closer to earning his third senior title Tuesday, getting past Shell Wheeler during the final round of pool play before dispatching 2016 MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year John Anderson, 1-up.

Trailing early with a bogey at the second, Brellenthin rebounded by sinking his birdie at the sixth to draw even. Winning the 14th with a par, Brellenthin would carry a slim lead to the final hole and close out the victory over Anderson with a par to win, 1-up.

Brellenthin claimed the Minnesota Senior Open in 2018 at Hastings Golf Club prior to becoming the first player in two decades to win the MGA Senior Amateur on their home course with his two-stroke win last August at the Minikahda Club.

He will square off against David Anderson, who went 2-1 during pool play on his home course this week before his quarterfinal victory over Antonio Catani, 2 and 1.

The semifinal round of the 23rd MGA Senior Players’ Championship is slated to begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at Royal Golf Club.

Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter is entering his tenth season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA's website. He resides in New Prague with his wife, Amber, and two sons.

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